Sleeping under the canvas with your canine companion...
By Huw James
Sharing a Tent with Your Four-Legged Friend
A lot of the time, camping is a means to an end. It’s the necessity between walking, kayaking, mountaineering, driving or other adventures, but it can be an adventure of its own! And the art of sleeping in a tent with a dog is definitely an adventure!
After a day full of playing fetch, retrieving sticks from lakes, or just following you around, it will be time for your dog to settle down. If you choose to settle your dog down in the porch of your tent, make sure that they are secured properly. Some people may choose to have their dog sleep in with them, especially on cold clear nights when they’re a great hot water bottle! I hear a lot that dogs will be fine no matter how cold they are because “they have a built-in jacket”, but that’s not always the case. The picture to the right shows how cold a dog’s ears can get at night. Out walking on cold nights, my dog’s paw temperature has gone below 0 degrees, but normally warms back up in the tent. The fact is, our pampered house dogs aren’t Alaskan snow dogs, and might need us to look out for them with it’s really cold or really hot. Little ideas like elevating your dog off the ground will mean the world to them, and always having fresh water available.
On the Trails
Out in the trail between camps is sometimes the hardest part of going camping with your dog. Making sure they’re under control, keeping an eye on them at all times, and making sure they’re safe in hazardous environments. But the same things always apply, think about others and think about your dog. Keep them away from wildlife and make sure they’re under control. Some people go into the mountains to get away from it all, and dogs may be one of the things they’re trying to get away from. If you come across other people with dogs on a leash, yours should be on a leash too. And it goes without saying that if your dog goes to the toilet on the trail; make sure it gets picked up. A large 1L Nalgene bottle will make sure it doesn’t smell while leaving the trail with you.
Basically, camping with dogs requires time, effort and thoughtfulness. Think about what your dog needs and be prepared. When we go walking in the mountains, we may take a first aid course to make sure we’re safe, why not do a bit of research on dog first aid? Keep thinking about the people around you and how they may react to your dog. We all share the outdoors, so we should all be able to enjoy it equally.
Here’s a check list and some equipment I use for making camping more enjoyable with my dog:
Before you go...
- Vaccinations, flea & tick preventative
- Microchip your dog
- Get a name tag with your phone number on
- Exercise your dog to make sure he/she is in good condition
- Make sure they heel on command if off leash
- Check for anxiety
Dog Camping Gear
- Doggie first aid kit & doggie sun lotion
- Adaptil Pheremone spray or collar
- Collar and spare
- Water & food portioned up in sandwich bags
- Food and water bowls
- Leash and spare leash. I use a leash for wet and one for dry
- MANY towels
- Dog robe
- Toys including a tennis ball and thrower
- Camping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Rain jacket & cold weather jacket
- Canine life jacket (if needed)
- Doggie boots (if cold or around nettles)
- Stake and long line
- Poo bags
- Nalgene bottle
- Buddy beacon or glow sticks
- Spare blankets
- Wet wipes
- Kitchen roll
- Travel crate (if needed)
When you're back...
- Give your dog another once-over for fleas and ticks
- Clean around eyes and ears, checking as you go
- Wash EVERYTHING
- Pay attention to eating and toilet habits to make sure all is well